Next Week’s Meal Plan: 5 Fast and Fancy Dinners for Out-of-Town Guests

published Apr 9, 2017
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(Image credit: Meghan Splawn)

This week my brother is coming to visit for a few days of his spring break. My little brother who at 6’1″ towers over me and will eat at least two portions of whatever is served for dinner. I honest to goodness love feeding him, as he hunkers into every plate with pure enthusiasm.

Over text I asked if he had any requests for dinner. “That is the best question anyone has asked me all day!” he wrote. Shrimp and grits was his lone request. Even though I have an easy-to-impress guest visiting this week, the goal is dinners for the week that are both fast and a little fancy, a cooking style I don’t always reach for when feeding two preschoolers.

Here are the five fast and fancy dinners I’m cooking for house guests this week.

(Image credit: Meghan Splawn)

Welcome to This Week’s Meal Plan

Planning my weekly meals is a habit I enjoy. Since I’m frequently asked by friends and family what I’m cooking for dinner each week, I thought it’d be useful to share my weekly meal plan here. Whether you’re just learning to meal plan and looking for a real-life example of how this works or you’re an old pro on the hunt for inspiration, here’s a peek at how I’m feeding my family this week.

New to meal planning? Start here.

(Image credit: Jenny Huang)

This spaghetti squash with asparagus recipe is a near-perfect springtime meatless Monday dish. My family loves the ricotta lemon sauce so much that I’ll double it — making one batch as written with spaghetti squash and the other with angel hair pasta for the kids (and honestly for the leftovers, too).

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

Taco Tuesday is also the night my brother flies in from California. A slow-cooker dinner is required, as he’ll be famished from flying and we all love these slow cooker chicken fajitas. One way to make this homey dish a little fancier is to create a tray of condiments, including a few salsas, lime sour cream, pickled jalapeños, and a plenty of limes for squeezing.

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

My brother’s one dinner request, shrimp and grits, poses a small challenge. Last week my daughter declared she “no longer eats shrimp this week” (we had it last week and she devoured it). So I’m getting a little creative and making these easy sheet pan chili garlic roasted shrimp and broccoli and serving them over slow cooker grits with a side of store-bought kimchi. This is hardly traditional, but I know my kids will eat broccoli and grits in their bowls while the grown-ups enjoy this riff. #dinnercompromise

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

Another dinner request from my brother (can you tell he misses Southern food in California?). And while I do love frying chicken, it is hardly a weeknight affair. Instead I’ll use this recipe for the chicken and make my favorite biscuit recipe and a side of coleslaw. I anticipate zero leftovers.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

Friday night always mean pizza in our house. This week it’s a vehicle for a bunch of sausage and red peppers I need to use up. I have been really digging this pizza dough recipe lately.

(Image credit: Meghan Splawn)

Your turn — what dinners do you cook when you have house guests? Do you take guest requests or enjoy eating out a little more?